Digital printing technologies introduced in 1994 opened new possibilities for printing high quality low quantity four color documents. Documents could be manufactured faster and at a more affordable cost than ever before. Along with the introduction of digital presses such as the Xeikon DCP- 1 and Indigo E-Print 1000 came the expectation that this new printing technology would grow at a highly accelerated rate. To the disappointment of many companies that invested in this technology, growth has been much slower than anticipated. Lack of market growth is attributed to an uninformed client base, one unable to understand how this technology can service its needs. When clients require only 50 to 1000 copies of a document, the issue of profitability exists. Digital presses are certainly more efficient with run lengths that are shorter since there are no films or plates. They require minimal make ready such as mounting plates and running the press until optimal inking of the substrate. Unlike conventional printing workflow, proofs are generated on the digital press when required. The inefficiencies in digital printing reside in the prepress function since the workflow is the same as traditional prepress with the exception of the proofing process. This is due to the high apportioned cost of prepress in relation to the short run length when compared to traditional printing. The purpose of this paper was to develop and show how an operational model predicts the profitability of prepress operations when digital printing with a Xeikon engine. Experience indicates that digital printing can be worthwhile despite the cost of prepress. The initial model assumed that all documents introduced into the work flow were press ready. Due to the variety of difficulties encountered in prepress production, a more accurate model could only be created after recording and analyzing relevant prepress data. The revised model provided better insight into prepress efficiency and profitability of digital printing using a Xeikon engine with some interesting results. Prepress operations including printing is responsible for about 25% of the selling cost well under the typical 40% goal set by industry standard. Since the average impressions run was over 550, additional time required to insure jobs submitted are press ready that even doubled the prepress time has little impact on the final cost of a job. This is due to the efficiency of the tools used to prepare jobs. The average length of time to prepare a job is 20 minutes, therefore, the use of 40 minutes would typically add less than seven dollars to the manufacturing cost of production. When prepress requires corrections the cost of prepress increases by less than half a percent, therefore, prepress is efficient since the cost of typical additional labor do not dramatically effect profitability.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Digital printing presses; Printing--Data processing; Electronics in printing; Printing industry--Automation

Publication Date


Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

School of Print Media (CIAS)


Noga, Joseph


Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works. Physical copy available through RIT's The Wallace Library at: Z249.3 .H66 2000


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